After a Western Carolina turnover, Illini guard Tracy Abrams made two free throws and a basket on the following possession for a 66-56 lead.
Guard Preston Ross paced the Catamounts (3-6) with 17 points. James Sinclair added 13 points.
The Illini (9-0) play at No. 10 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Brandon Paul drives for the slam:
Sam McLaurin putback:
Brandon Paul breakaway lay-up:
FINAL: James Sinclair scored 13 points, pulled down eight boards and dished out three assists, but it wasn’t enough to lead Western Carolina past No. 14 Illinois, as Western Carolina (3-6) fell 72-64 on Tuesday at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Tracy Abrams sparked Illinois (9-0), as he had 10 points, grabbed five rebounds, and contributed three assists in the win. Joseph Bertrand was 3-of-5 from the floor and chipped in seven points for the Fighting Illini.
HALFTIME: Brandon Paul has 10 points to lead No. 14 Illinois to a 32-22 lead over Western Carolina at the end of the first half. The Fighting Illini never trailed in the first half and led by as many as 10 points. Illinois applied the pressure in the first half, earning second-chance opportunities with 10 offensive rebounds. Eight Illinois players scored in the first half. Western Carolina distributed the ball well, with four assists on six field goals in the first half. Trey Sumler led the way for the Catamounts in the first half, with zero points and five rebounds.
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